Vol. 3, Issue 10 (2017)
Social issues of widows and half-widows of political conflict: A study in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir
Author(s): Heena Qadir
Abstract: This paper is intended to make an exploratory study of social issues of widows and half-widows of political conflict. This manuscript opens with the theoretical understanding of peace, conflict, political conflict and its possible consequences, rising social concerns of women due to political crisis and social issues pertaining to widows and half-widows of political trauma. The argument has been standardized by taking orientation from sociological perspectives of classical sociologists. This study draws on the experiences of widows and half widows to capture an often unseen and pernicious face of insecurity in Kashmir. It identifies how this population provides an immediate opportunity for meaningful engagement. The universe for present study constitutes District Anantnag of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. A sample of 10 widows and 10 half-widows has been selected through snowball sampling making a sample size of 20 respondents. This study subscribes to exploratory type of research with survey as a method of research. The tools of data collection used are interview schedule, secondary data analysis and informal interpersonal discussion with the respondents. Different variables chosen for the present study were social conditions, economic conditions and remedies available/unavailable to widows and half-widows of political conflict. The absence of husbands renders women economically vulnerable. As a result, they as well as their children become dependent on others, most often on the husband’s family. The half-widows, widows and their children are seen as constant reminders of the family’s loss and as additional mouths to feed. In several cases, half-widows and widows leave or are forced to leave the in-law’s’ home. Then, in most of these cases, the maternal homes become the source of shelter and food. However, once again, they and their children are seen as burdens; as culturally a daughter is not supposed to live with her parents once the parents have fulfilled their duty of marrying her. In cases where there is no family able or willing to support, they are rendered homeless. The children may be put in an orphanage, for example, those run by the Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Trust. The prolonged nature of the husband’s absence makes widows and half-widows vulnerable to several threats against their physical and mental well-being. While social networks have been crucial to most widows and half-widows for surviving their trauma, societal biases have at times aggravated their traumatization.